That's why we ask the question: Was Kurt Cobain a Pedal Nut? You bet your ass. Here's the proof:
- Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion - No introduction is necessary for this pedal. Standard Boss casing and three knob configuration (level, tone, distortion), with the added bonus of a turbo knob. Set the tone and distortion near the maximum, and turn the turbo knob to "II" in order to zone in on Cobain's tone. Of course, the pick-ups on your guitar, the amplification, and volume at which you are playing will weigh heavily on your overall distorted tone. But the added turbo boost provided by the Boss DS-2 pedal should enable you to distort the cleanest sounding amplifiers. Used DS-2 pedals are readily available on Ebay.com and craigslist.com for about $50.00. But why not treat yourself to a new one for $90.00 (presently as low as $40.00 at Musicians Friend).
- Electro-Harmonix Big Muff - While the DS-2 distortion is known to have been a mainstay on Cobain's pedal board (look at the photographs in the In Utero liner notes), I personally prefer the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff pedal. At low volumes, at which most of us typically play, the Big Muff provides a dirtier, dare I say grungier, tone. Of course, if you're playing live on a weekly basis and wish to faithfully reproduce the tones on Nevermind, the DS-2 Distortion is the pedal for you.
- Electro-Harmonix SmallClone - This pedal is a must if ever you intend to perform a rendition of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" or "Come as You Are" for an audience of more than three people (your parents excluded). Set the rate knob at the 3 o'clock position and slide the depth switch down to experience the rapid, yet deep, chorus preferred by Kurt Cobain. If you're lucky, you'll find a vintage version of this pedal on Ebay.com but not for less than $150.00. The range of sounds available on vintage SmallClone's is considered to be more expansive, but for the purpose of replicating the sounds on Nirvana's Nevermind album, the reissue SmallClones from Electro-Harmonix are more reliable. From my experience, vintage SmallClone's that have survived Punk and post-Punk New Wave tours smell funny (and certainly nothing like teen spirit).
- For the Amp Nuts - If you have money left over after buying the Boss DS-2 and Electro-Harmonix SmallClone, and want to take your Nevermind-inspired playing to the next level, why not finish off with the proper amplification? Start with a rack-mounted Mesa/Boogie Studio preamp, a Crest 4801 power amp (or two depending on your budget), and a Marshall 4x12 cabinet. Tweak the settings on the Mesa Boogie Studio preamp to dial in on the right tone, but be sure to use the clean channel with the midrange set quite high.